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How to Make Poor Man's Concrete

By Abaigeal Quinn

Concrete patios are great, but not everyone can afford to have one poured or own the equipment to do it themselves. You may still be able to reach your dream of a cement patio by building one out of "poor man's concrete." This method does not work well in regions prone to freezing weather, due to cracking, but for those living in warmer climates, this may just be the ticket. Poor man's concrete should also dry slowly--over several day's time-- so if you do live in a hot climate, plan to pour your patio during moderate temperatures.

Calculate the size of your proposed patio, dividing it into sections that are four by eight feet long. Stake out the four sides of each section with string and stakes, using a tape measure for accuracy.

Build a four by eight foot frame with lumber, nailing it securely into place. Be sure your forms are sturdily built to avoid mishap. Build additional frames in the same manner until you have covered the intended patio space.

Fill the first frame with two inches of gravel, leveling it with the six foot board.

Start with the first bag of cement, sprinkling it across the gravel evenly and following with the other four bags. Smooth the cement out over the gravel with a broom, making it as level as possible.

Set the garden hose nozzle to a fine mist, thoroughly saturating all areas of the cement. Wait five minutes and observe the mix. If it still appears to be dry, give it another good misting.

Wait for the water to rise to the top of the cement. Using a flat trowel, work the cement in using 1/2 inch circles, smoothing it out the way you would regular cement. Continue to work it until it resembles a smooth concrete finish.

Continue on to the next frame, following the above steps. Cure your poor man's concrete over the next several days by misting it several times daily.


Things You Will Need

  • 1-1/2 inch stakes
  • String
  • Tape measure
  • 2 x 4 lumber
  • Nails
  • Level
  • Driveway gravel
  • 5 bags of regular cement (per section)
  • Concrete finishing trowel
  • Broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Hose with fine-mist nozzle
  • 2 x 4 board, cut to 6 feet


  • Do not drive a vehicle over poor man's cement, as it will crack.

About the Author


Abaigeal Quinn works as an international entertainment broker in the United States. She is a former news editor and insurance agent who began writing for a daily newspaper in 1995.